Text by Dawoud Kringle and Photos by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi
On Monday, November 20th MFM hosted an experimental gathering. MFM founder Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, and jazz legend Billy Harper organized a jazz musician meeting at Yeoryia Studios in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Billy Harper was, of course, the keynote speaker.
The meeting was not well attended. Many of the over two dozen musicians who were personally invited by Saadat had the good manners to personally inform him that they could not attend (among them were Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, Randy Brecker, and Ray Blue). It is a regrettable thing, because some relevant and fascinating issues were brought up for discussion.
One of these was the question many musicians ask: is jazz dead? The answer is a decisive and intractable “No.” but there are difficulties that jazz must overcome. The struggles of jazz musicians – and all music professionals – have been beset by an ever changing set of circumstances and factors on the business and technological realities of the music business- all of which affects the public zeitgeist regarding jazz. Harper pointed out that every 10 years somebody propagates that jazz is dead as a way to get some attention for jazz music. There is truth to this; and perhaps serves to kick jazz musicians and audiences out of their complacency. Some people, musicians included, have a tendency to treat jazz as a “museum music:” i.e. they freeze it into a classical form, and resist its natural and organic nature to evolve. There is also they tendency of the corporatocracy to deliberately resist the prosperity and vibrancy of jazz. The reason for this is simple; the “dumbing down” of the audiences generates greater profits over a shorter period of time. The recent developments in computer based music technology facilitate these phenomenons – and also facilitate the opposition to the degeneration of musical and artistic sublimity and meaning.